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THIS DAY IN HISTORY: HOGAN VS. ROCK, BEYOND THE MAT OPENS, VADER BEATS STING, AUSTIN BEATS BISCHOFF AND MORE

By Buck Woodward on 2011-03-17 08:00:00

March 17th 

On this day in history in ....

1981 - The Moondogs (Rex & King) defeat Tony Garea & Rick Martel for the WWF World Tag Team Title in Allentown, Pennsylvania.? This would end Garea & Martel's first tag title reign. Two months later, when King was unable to enter the country from Canada due to legal problems, Moondog Spot took him place in the championship team. 

1982 - Bob Roop defeats Ted DiBiase for the Mid-South North American Heavyweight Title in Shreveport, Louisiana, ending DiBiase's third run with the belt. 

1993 - Big Van Vader defeats Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Title in Dublin, Ireland. Vader had lost the title to Sting six days earlier in London, England. This would mark the beginning of Vader's third WCW title reign, and the end of Sting's second (third if you count the NWA World Title). 

1999 - Johnny Spade defeats Jason Lee for the Ohio Valley Light Heavyweight Title. 

2000 - Beyond The Mat, a documentary on professional wrestling put together by Hollywood screenwriter Barry W. Blaustein, opens in theaters. The film focuses on Jake Roberts, Terry Funk, and Mick Foley, and also includes sections on Vince McMahon, Droz, New Jack, Koko B. Ware, and ECW's first Pay-per-view, Barely Legal.

2002 - Wrestlemania X8 takes place. Mike Johnson penned the following recap of the event. 

Wrestlemania X8 

March 17, 2002
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Arena: Skydome
Announced Attendance: 68,237 

*Rob Van Dam pinned William Regal with the five star frog splash to win the WWF Intercontinental championship. 

*WWF European Champ Diamond Dallas Page pinned Christian. This was Page's only Wrestlemania appearance before he retired. 

*In his Wrestlemania debut, WWF Hardcore Champ Maven fought Goldust, which ended with several others running in and Spike Dudley pinning Maven to win the title. The Hurricane later pinned Spike to win the belt and spent the rest of the PPV running around in the back in a series of vignettes trying not to be pinned, only to be attacked and pinned by his sidekick Molly Holly. Holly was then hit by a door as she was walking through it and pinned by Christian. Christian attempted to flee the building but was rolled up and pinned by Maven, who then stole Christian's taxi to boot, exiting as Hardcore champion. Maven would also be the first Tough Enough winner to make it to Mania. 

*Kurt Angle pinned Kane 

*The Undertaker pinned Ric Flair in a great street fight with a tombstone. Flair used a steel bar from the Undertaker's motorcycle on him. Arn Anderson hit the ring and hit Taker with a spinebuster at one point as well. 

*In a grudge match over a fictional shampoo commercial in Japan, Edge pinned Booker T. 

*Steve Austin pinned Scott Hall (with Kevin Nash) with several stone cold stunners. This would be the first and only appearance of the New World Order gimmick in the WWE, which quickly stalled and died out. Austin would walk out of the company the next day over unhappiness with the promotion and his own health issues, which began the build to his retirement the next year. 

*WWF Tag Champs Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo beat The Acolytes, The Hardy Boyz, and The Dudley Boys in a Four-Way Elimination bout which saw D-Von pin Bradhsaw, Jeff Hardy pin Bubba Dudley, and Billy Gunn pin Jeff.

*The Rock pinned Hulk Hogan with a rock bottom in a tremendously heated match that saw the Toronto crowd just go wild for Hogan. This is really entertaining to watch on video just for the crowd reactions as just like last year, the crowd turned on Rocky for his opponent. Hall and Nash turned on Hogan after the bout with Rocky making the save. Rock and Hogan posed to end the segment. Much like the Hogan vs. Warrior match at Wrestlemania VI, Hogan was supposed to pass the torch but made himself so sympathetic, he was more over walking out. This would set up his babyface run here. 

*WWF Women's Champ Jazz beat Trish Stratus and Lita in a Triple Threat Match when she pinned Lita. OK match that saw them in the death slot after the Hogan match. 

*Triple H pinned Chris Jericho (with Stephanie McMahon) to win the Undisputed WWF championship with the Pedigree. 

Celebrities: Bands Drowning Pool and Saliva were brought in to play live during the PPV, including "telling the story" of Jericho vs. HHH which was more based around Stephanie and HHH. 

Notes: The attendance was another Skydome record....The promotion did another round of AXXESS events, although the first one was marred by a fan pulling a fire alarm and having to end the session early?. Rikishi, Scotty Too Hotty, & Albert beat Mr. Perfect, Test, & Lance Storm (3:06) when Rikishi pinned Perfect during Sunday Night Heat. It would be the final Wrestlemania appearance for Curt Hennig prior to his passing. 

Buck Woodward: Ahhh, what a controversial Mania this was. ... I recall that there was a lot of wrestlers upset over being overlooked for the card, resulting in the six-man tag on Heat. ... Rob Van Dam and William Regal was somewhat of a style clash. ... I was so glad to see Diamond Dallas Page get a win at Wrestlemania. From driving Honky Tonk Man at Wrestlemania VI, in the same building, he saw his final career highlight and dream realized by winning a match at the biggest show there is. ... I'm glad the Hardcore Title silliness is over. ... Kurt Angle took Kane to a better match than I ever thought possible. ... Undertaker vs. Ric Flair, much like Triple H the year before, planted the seed of doubt as to whether Undertaker could maintain his perfect Mania record. I absolutely popped for Arn Anderson's spinebuster. ... I remember thinking Edge vs. Booker T needed five more minutes to really heat up. ... Steve Austin wrestling on a PPV with four matches left on the show just seems bizarre. Of course, the real bizarre stuff happened the next day when Austin just went home, rather than go to Raw. ... After two years of amazing tag title matches at Wrestlemania, the streak ended here. ... If you ever want to know how to work a "big money match" just watch The Rock and Hulk Hogan. They played the crowd perfectly, and gave them exactly what they wanted to see. There was a lot of talk that this match should have closed the show, and Triple H used the "World Title matches should always be the main event" excuse to get the top spot over this. ... The women's match was good, but obviously was a bumper to let the crowd recover from Rock-Hogan before the main event. ... Triple H vs. Chris Jericho was good, but Jericho had been so poorly booked as champion (dog crap, anyone?) that the outcome was never in question. ... I also liked this show because there were two bands performing, and since I could care less about either of them, I got to take two food breaks! 

Jess McGrath: Another one-match show, Hogan vs. Rock. I remember the buildup to this match not exactly being the best. They did that stupid angle where Rock was trapped in an ambulance and they ran a tractor trailer into it, or some such stupidity. Hogan vs. Rock was enough to stand on its own, it didn't need the theatrics or the peripheral involvement of the NWO. But when it came match time, they pulled off some great magic. I suspect, watching this match a second time (which I haven't done), it would be a lot like Hogan vs. Warrior, ironically from the same building, the Skydome. But live that night, it was great stuff. Aside from that match, and Flair-Undertaker, there wasn't much of note. The finale with HHH and Jericho was anticlimactic after Hogan-Rock, and it didn't help that the match was no better than some of their previous free TV matches. 

Mike Johnson: I attended this Wrestlemania live and after the previous year, I felt let down once I walked into the building. There was no "feel" that this was something special except for when Hulk Hogan was out there and at that point it was all fans who wanted to relive Wrestlemania VI. I remember the ultra lame build to this show with horrid vivid memories: Undisputed champion Chris Jericho walking Stephanie's dog? Booker T and Edge over a shampoo commercial? DDP vs. Christian? Ugh. This is a show that was a throwback to the older shows as the hype involved was greater than any of the work, and that's a real shame seeing how strong the roster was. Flair vs. Undertaker was the only real saving grace on the card, especially the appearance of Arn Anderson out of nowhere. While I loved my visit to the city of Toronto, this show is an afterthought at best to me. 

Dave Scherer: This was the "We are not in Kansas anymore Toto" version of Mania. By this time, Chris Kreski was long gone and Stephanie McMahon had taken over creative, and it showed. The changes had become obvious and this show was a huge letdown from the previous year. The match of the night was Hogan vs. Rock. They blew me away.

2003 - During an edition of Raw from St. Louis, Missouri, Steve Austin defeated Eric Bischoff in a No DQ match after hitting Stunners on Bischoff, Chief Morley (Val Venis) and The Rock.

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